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BlogSpot: Social Media - Integration is Key

Sarah Cooper, Black Zest Solutions Sarah Cooper, Black Zest Solutions

With the influx of so many different social media platforms, the challenge for SMEs is how to align these different channels effectively and distinguish the key differentiating factors of each platform, ensuring the content delivered is relevant and targeted.

A key factor for social media success is integration.

Only 13% of companies integrate their social media activities with their direct mail and only 21% with their print media compared to 76% with email marketing. (Source: Econsultancy - Social media and online PR report). So there is still a long way to go!

Benefits of integration include:

  • Coherent brand messages
  • Consistency of messages
  • Making relevant content easily available
  • Driving customers online from offline and vice versa

So what does this mean for you?

Plan how your different marketing activities will work together. By driving traffic to your online social platforms e.g. Facebook and Twitter using offline methods, e.g. using calls-to-action on leaflets or, during an event, asking attendees to check in at your business or tweet about the event.

Which Platforms?

It is important to look at each option carefully in order to decide which social platforms are relevant to your business. It is often better to use 2-3 platforms very well than use 10 platforms briefly. A major success factor is engagement and presence.

Many people take one piece of news and directly feed it into lots of different platforms i.e. Twitter and Facebook automatically. There are a number of systems available to help with your social media both for tracking and for automation. Hootsuite is the main one that we as an agency use however there are a number of systems which are available. The issue here is that each platform has a different audience and different preferences. For example, a Business to Business (B2B) message on Facebook at 6pm is unlikely to have a strong impact as this platform is primarily a social experience rather than work based information source, therefore people are not in the frame of mind to receive such B2B messages. Compare this to Twitter on the other hand, which is used considerably more for B2B purposes, with people seeking information and advice during their working day. The important thing is to ensure relevancy and differentiation by not automatically feeding information into your Facebook, Linked In and Twitter without altering the copy of the message by platform and altering delivery times.

It is important to distribute your content to as many or your target audience as possible but thinking carefully about what you are saying and at what time is key.

In order to make your social media integrated and also targeted you need to: understand your market through research, test what works, document it and then learn. As said by the mighty Bill Gates:

"The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency - the second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify its inefficiency."

This quote is a key consideration for social media as a whole. As shown above, integrating your social media is key and that does often involve the use of automation systems to distribute content amongst the different social channels. However unless the operation is tested and constantly monitored, the automation techniques can add to the confusion and lack of impact.

Sarah Cooper, Black Zest Solutions

Sarah Cooper is the Director of Black Zest Solutions, a marketing and Website Design Agency in Lancaster. Black Zest Solutions is a resident of InfoLab21 and offers a full range of marketing and design services, aiming to offer fresh innovative thinking to drive your business forward. Go to Sarah Cooper's Blog to read more of her posts.

Please share your thoughts below. How have you integrated social media platforms with your business?

Fri 29 June 2012